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Feeling busy is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to always be that way

(ENTREPRENEUR) At some point, everyone feels overwhelmingly busy but you don’t have to be stuck in that feeling.

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How to Feel Less Busy

Most of us would consider ourselves busy in the plainest sense of the word—and if you’re here and reading this article, it seems safe to assume to that you fit into the busy mold, too.

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While making oneself less busy is often an exercise in dawdling or running pointless errands (the printer can only run out of elbow grease so many times, Harold), here are a few ways you can make your own haste more bearable.

Start early, finish early.

Contrary to what non-morning people think, beginning your day earlier than necessary doesn’t shift your hours of operation up a few pegs. You’ll often notice that waking up a couple hours early doesn’t alter your bedtime.

Instead, you grant yourself an extra chunk of daylight with which to accomplish your goals.

Additionally, replacing the feeling of exhaustion that accompanies late hours with a sense of euphoria at finishing one’s work an hour or two early will leave you feeling mentally relaxed.

Respect your own “Do Not Disturb” hours.

Maybe you’re one of those people who can’t leave your cell phone or email inbox alone while you’re off the clock. I’m guilty of this myself; the stress of knowing that your inbox is probably filling up with hate mail from your boss and free money from Nigeria as you take an hour to yourself is absolutely maddening.

Ask yourself this, though: when was the last time your actual inbox matched your perception of what it might look like after a night away?

Once you learn that it’s okay to punch out mentally as well, your periods of rest and relaxation will significantly improve.

Similarly, it can be tempting to want to get a head start on the following day’s tasks. Resist the urge to plan or do some “light work”—instead, treat your off-the-clock hours the way they deserve to be treated and just have a damn beer.

Minimize distractions.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with tasks when you keep seeing white numbers on red backgrounds popping up on your Facebook page and your phone is constantly whistling at you. Since these are often tasks that don’t matter in the context of the work day, consider muting them while you’re in work mode. The less visual and audible input you have, the less you’ll feel like you’re juggling.

Leave a small task unfinished.

This is a favorite of mine. At the end of the day, try to leave a small, easily accomplished item on your checklist for the following day. This will allow you to start the following morning with a work-related warmup of sorts.

Especially if you’re getting up earlier than necessary, having this tiny task will help ease you into the day’s routine.

Even if the task is something as small as reloading your stapler or installing a computer update, this is a fantastic way to feel productive while not overburdening yourself from the moment you step into your office.

Establish a reasonable effort baseline.

It’s easy to want to go all-out when you first take a position or receive a promotion, but try pacing yourself a bit. Tackling an insane amount of work at the beginning of your time with an employer will set that standard as your baseline in their eyes, while leaving yourself with some space to improve in the beginning will afford you some breathing room later.

This isn’t to say that you should purposefully suck at your job, of course—just know that you don’t have to scale Mount Everest every day to hold onto your job.

Pay attention to down time.

It’s easy to note the amount of time you’re spending performing a certain task. Less easy is realizing and embracing the brief respites between tasks, or finding time to relax while performing an easy job.

When I was a sophomore in college, I had a job cleaning the floors in the UC kitchen. It wasn’t a particularly entertaining job, of course, and it was fairly challenging most nights; however, I knew that the point at which I had to wash the kitchen mats was a time to look forward to, since it required little cognitive input and allowed me a break from the stench of rotting produce and cleaning chemicals.

I also grew potatoes under a soup kettle in that kitchen as a form of retribution toward our grumpy boss, though, so perhaps you shouldn’t listen to me.

The point here is simply that taking some time to appreciate the invariable breaks between momentous tasks throughout the day will make the day seem marginally less crowded, which may be exactly what you need.

And, failing that, try kicking a potato or two under your boss’ desk. They’ll sprout for, like, no reason at all, and you’ll get a laugh out of it.

#chillpill

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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Business Entrepreneur

Cowrkr gives you accountability while you work solo

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Being accountable for your own accountability is a tall order. Join Cowrkr and let someone else do it for you.

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My boyfriend and I have always had a great appreciation for film and television, as well as the writing that goes into it. We always talk about different project ideas, but never get too far in execution with the busyness of real life.

Last night, I finally thought of a way that we can help each other bring our projects to completion, and that is simply by holding each other accountable. I suggest that each week we could have a new task that is due by 10 p.m. Sunday night.

We both have ideas for scripts, so the plan is to start off with having a plot synopsis and character list due the first week, having an outline due the second week, and so on. This will not only help keep us on track but will also help in terms of formatting ideas.

While I’m grateful that this little plan has come together, I know that most people aren’t working on similar projects to people they are close with. Therefore, they may need to look elsewhere for accountability.

Now freelancers and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to be matched with a fellow freelancer or entrepreneur to help hold each other accountable for their respective projects. Meet Cowrkr.

“This is an initiative to help makers keep themselves socially accountable by getting them to build publicly,” says cowrkr developers.

Users sign up and give some info regarding what project they’re working on and what they’re shipping. It works by connecting two makers at a time and cowrkr works to help each maker keep the other accountable until each project is completed.

Once a project has been completed, the makers then end their accountability relationship. When their next project comes along, they will then be assigned a different maker.

Cowrkr’s website does not give a ton of insight as to how the algorithms and matching systems work, but it is an intriguing idea for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to take their individual projects to the next level.

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The top 10 startup cities in America

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) If you’re thinking about launching a startup anytime soon you may want to check out this list on the top 10 cities for startups.

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The digital revolution is in full swing, and some cities are setting themselves up to capitalize upon these innovations by supporting startups.

In order to “better understand the U.S. cities driving the digital revolution,” several groups have come together to rank which cities are making the most of the tech startup boom.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1776, the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center, and FreeEnterprise.com have teamed up to publish a report called Innovation That Matters (ITM).

The report analyzes and ranks U.S. cities on such factors as startup capital, the connectivity of startups, startup culture, the availability of worker talent and specialization, and more. Data was taken from surveys of entrepreneurs and businesspeople, startups, and leaders in public and private sectors.

J.D. Harrison, senior director of strategic communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the “digital revolution has the potential to make winners of some cities and leave others behind.”

The study aims to find out which cities “embrace this shift to a digital economy and actively support technology startups,” arguing that these cities “will be the best positioned to unleash the power of high-impact innovation and cultivate vibrant, thriving communities.”

The top ten ranking cities are as follows:

10) Portland, Oregon because every city needs a nickname, has been dubbed the Silicon Forest, referencing its leadership in green tech.

9) New York City, New York. The largest tech hub on the east coast.

8) Seattle, Washington. Home to Amazon.com and several other tech firms, with Microsoft’s headquarters in nearby Redmond.

7) Dallas, Texas. Dtown moved up significantly by increasing startup connectivity and tapping into a large, diverse workforce.

6) Atlanta, Georgia. The “most improved” city on the ITM list, moving up 15 places to number six due to a surge in financial, educational, and health tech industries.

5) Austin,Texas. Home of The American Genius, Austin has become a “haven for tech-savvy millennials seeking good-paying job opportunities.” Besides hosting many tech startups, Austin still has a relatively affordable cost of living.

4) San Diego, California. San Diego is full of cybersecurity, Big Data, robotics, and software startups.

3)Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also known as Philicon Alley, moved up from number eight by deregulating and becoming more business-friendly.

2) San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay also ranked number two last year. The seaside neighbor to the Silicon Valley has been doing a great job attracting seed funding these days.

1) Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second year in a row that Boston has topped this list, due to its large number of startups and robust entrepreneur population.

How does your city rank?

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Business Entrepreneur

Customer surveys tell more than just satisfaction

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) While they can be annoying for the consumer and cost time for the company, customer feedback surveys are crucial to your business.

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While Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson, and Steve Harvey may not be able to personally help you with customer service, what they have in common can. Surveys, and personalized follow-up attention in general, help clients and consumers know that they mean something to your business.

For the sake of this article (and the fast-paced, technological world we live in) I am going to be speaking about surveys. However, I want to share this anecdote first.

I used to work front desk at a salon and part of my job was to follow up with new guests about a week after their appointment.

Now, most of the time, my calls went to voicemail, which were never returned; but every once in awhile a human answered.

After going through the spiel of why I was calling, I could almost always sense a sound of surprise from the other line before the person answered my question. One conversation in particular left me realizing how important this seemingly useless task was.

I called an older woman and asked her about a recent appointment she had at the salon. She thanked me for calling and then went into detail about how great the appointment was and how much getting her hair done meant to her.

Before we hung up she said, “thank you again for calling. A salon has never done this before.” It then hit me like a ton of bricks just how significant something as small as a callback is.

If you have the time, definitely make those callbacks to clients as it could be very meaningful. However, it’s understandable that most of us may not have the time in our schedule for personalized phone calls.

So if that’s the case, don’t forget about surveys. I know most of them will either go to spam or go unanswered, but the mere fact that you’re sending it out shows clients and customers that you care about their business.

And, for those surveys that do receive responses, it can be extremely beneficial for your company as you can get insight into what works and what doesn’t. There’s really no disadvantage to this tactic, so remember to make time for that follow up with existing clients rather than just focusing on getting new ones.

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